Al Karm

It has been almost a year since I last went to el karm. Yaaaah! It feels as if it was only last week or something. Some people are surprised about my passion about this place, as it doesn’t have any of the usual entertainment facilities offered by other resorts. It is built with natural resources, with the Bedouin architecture, no electricity, no GSM coverage, no beaches; just you, your company and the mountains.

When we decided to take a hike to Gabal El Banat, we didn’t consider how challenging this was going to be. We started the day a little bit late (at 11 am), it was extremely hot as we were in mid May. The sand was burning our feet, we had to take a break after 45 minutes. But later on it was very good. You can’t imagine how great it feels to walk in canyons filled with the smell ofel zaatar el gabali!

We had some adventures climbing a mountain WITHOUT a guide! It was very risky, and I was scared to death, however, it was an uunforgettable experience!

By night we opened all types of mawadi3 sha`eka, sitting by the fire, gazing at the stars, enjoying the night and the marmareya tea, listening to 3am Gamil’s stories and information about herbs, animals, Bedouin stories and poetry….

I REALLY want,,,, no NEED to go there.

There is a tale about 3 beautiful girls who were going to get married without their consent. They decided to run and went to this mountain. They tied their long hairs together and jumped from the mountain. Since that day every woman is free in deciding who she is gonna marry, and they named the mountain after them. Gabal El Banat.

AlKarm offers a fantastic lodging in the local style and yet with all the facilities modern man needs like bathrooms and toilets and a decent kitchen. It has no electricity and mobile phones don’t have coverage there…. Manager is the amazing Jamil Atteya who not only is familiar with all the trails and forms names but is a walking encyclopedia of Bedouin-culture who doubles for a poet. SaharaSafaris

Inaugurated in 2002, the mountainous retreat was built on the ruins of original Bedouin houses in Wadi Araba. It acquired its name “Al-Karm” meaning the “Grapes Garden” in Arabic, from the fact that this area was known for grape cultivation, but that was back in the heydays when rain was not as scarce as today…. Amm Gamil, a local Bedouin who is in charge of Al-Karm, is a reverent man who literally radiates peace and serenity. He, as the majority of the Bedouins living in the area round St Catherine Monastery, is from the Gebeliya Tribe… In contrast to the majority of Bedouin tribes of the Sinai and Negev deserts, the Gebeliya tribe is not descendant of Arab origin, but rather of, oddly enough, eastern European. It is believed that the Roman Emperor Justinian I, who ordered the building of St Catherine Monastery during the sixth century, had sent a hundred or so guards to protect and serve the monastery. They later intermarried with the locals and formed a separate tribe. Though they converted to Islam with the Arab conquest in the seventh century, the Gebeliya maintained a symbiotic relationship with the monastery’s monks. No one can ascertain for sure the guards’ origin. Some claim they were Romanian while others go for Macedonians or even Balkans. Mohamed El-Hebeishy– Ahram Weekly

Apart from running what are probably sinai’s only composting toilets, al karm is providing the Bedouin experience par excellence. The lodge is efficiently run and the simple food is excellent – frankly, better than many multi-starred hotels in sharm al sheikh. The local staff take care of their guests very well, and provide a host of hiking and trekking opportunities in the area. Marketing, however, is lacking and for the time being the lodge remains if not a completely undiscovered jewel, at least an under-discovered one.” Matthew Carrington – AmCham For reservations, costs and hiking arrangements out of Al-Karm, call Amm Gamil at +02 010 132 4693. As there is no mobile network in Al-Karm, your call to the above number will be automatically diverted to a voice mail. Leave a message with all the details and Amm Gamil will get back to you. Don’t worry; his replies are prompt. Mohamed El-Hebeishy– Ahram Weekly  

For more bloggers opinions: Joni, Jared, Laura,

P.S. I didn’t take any of the photos inserted above, follow the links if you need to see the source. I was so indulged in absorbing the serenity of the place, to the extent I didn’t have the heart to take photos.


5 responses to “Al Karm

  1. You seem to be a person who like simplisity.

    I have a friend who loves going to Basata in Nouebaa. It is the same idea. Although Basata has been there for a very long time. Actually my family and i went there back in the 1980s…!!

  2. Thanks Fadfadation,,,
    It’s true I love simplicity, this doesn’t mean that I don’t like the grandiose places. My main concern is the serenity of the place. That’s why I am not a big fan of Sharm and Hurghada, I see the beaches very artificial and the night scene somehow vulgar.

    I have never been to el basata, but I heard it’s great too !

  3. I was enchanted by Al Karm too. Unfortunately I did not stay overnight. Out of curiousity..did you have any language problems? I met Mr Gamil..who did not speak english. How did you like the interpretation of your host and guide? I plan on going in the future to actually experience an overnight stay there and do some trekking..perhaps climb Gebel Moses from the other side.

  4. I loved this place too! I don’t remember any problems with not knowing the language, and while it’s nicer to know some key basics, I generally find I can get by just fine without knowing local language. Either way, thanks for the link and thanks for reminding me about this great place! My visit there is filled with memories of amazing hiking, unbelieveable star gazing, and cuddling with Samer around the camp fire at new years. Ah what a great time!

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